Live fast, die younger: Actors, singers and sportsman 'die seven and a half years before other high achievers'Analysis of successful people found those in the public eye died youngerElvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix and more did not realise their potential
Young people considering chasing fame 'may face early death'
00:16 GMT, 18 April 2013
00:31 GMT, 18 April 2013
Stars such as Kurt Cobain, formerly of hit grunge band Nirvana, are more likely to die young, according to new research
Fame really does have a price, research shows.
An analysis of the lives and deaths of almost 1,000 successful people found that pop stars, sportsmen and actors were more likely to die young.
The price of fame equated to up to seven and a half years of life, with military top brass living on average almost eight years longer than sports stars, singers and other performers, a medical journal reports.
The idea that musicians die young has long been a source of fascination, with the deaths of the likes of Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison still fodder for books and films decades later.
Using information from New York Times obituaries, the Australian researchers proved the trio to be far from from the exception to the rule.
They took obituaries published between 2009 and 2011 and pulled out information such as age of death, cause of death and occupation.
It was assumed that those deemed worthy of an obituary in the newspaper had had a successful career.
The analysis showed that performers, including actors and singers, died the youngest.
Their average age of death was 77 years and one month. In contrast, military personal were the longest lived, clocking up 84 years and 8 months, on average.
Sportspeople also fared badly, dying on average at the age of 77 years and 5 months. Writers and other ‘creatives’ weren’t far behind, with an average lifespan of 78 and a half.
In contrast, businesspeople and politicians tended to join army-types in living in to their 80, the article in QJM: An International Journal of Medicine reports.
Early deaths were linked to accidents and infections, including HIV and cancer.
Lung cancer deaths, which the researchers said were an indication of long-term smoking, were most common in those whose career was performance-based.
Elvis Presley died in 1977, grossly overweight and addicted to drugs. In his prime he was the biggest music star the world had ever seen
The study’s authors said that young people considering chasing fame may face the choice of fulfilling their career potential or living longer.
They added that while the results don’t prove anything, they raise some interesting possibilities, from pop stars indulging too much while famous, to them self-medicating afterwards.
Professor Richard Epstein, of St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, said: ‘First, if it is true that successful performers and sports players tend to enjoy shorter lives, does this imply that fame at younger ages predisposes to poor health behaviours in later life after success has faded
‘Or that psychological and family pressures favouring unusually high public achievement lead to self-destructive tendencies throughout life
Too soon: Best-selling novelist Ernest Hemingway was just 61 when he killed himself
Waste: American rocker and musical pioneer Jimi Hendrix was just 27 when he died, apparently from an overdose. His career in the musical mainstream lasted just four years
‘Or that risk-taking personality traits maximise one’s chances of success, with the use of cigarettes, alcohol or illicit drugs improving one’s performance output in the short term
‘Any of these hypotheses could be viewed as a health warning to young people aspiring to become stars.’
Another recent analysis of rock and pop stars found that many of those who died young had been abused when young.
The British researchers said that the trappings of a rock and roll lifestyle may be especially attractive to those who have had an unhappy childhood.